The dog dropped flat to the ground in full submission mode. He knew he was in the presence of greatness. Eyes cast down, paws tucked under his chest, the beta bowed down as the strange alpha being rumbled past.
My car has that effect on every canine it encounters. We’re not talking about a massive Chevy Suburban or high-riding Range Rover here. The ride that strikes terror into pups out for their afternoon walk is a sensible mid-sized sedan tricked out in studded snow tires. It’s those snow tires and the weird, tearing-up-the-road rumble they make that scares the bejesus out of family pets.
You know the old saying, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog?” That’s partly what’s at work here. The sensible Camry is little, but when it struts out on the town tapping its studded stilettos on the pavement, the Camry likes to think it’s fierce.
You know what they say about overcompensation? That’s mostly what’s at work here. The sensible Camry is given snow tires in a somewhat futile effort to let it run with the big dawgs when the weather turns dicey. For the past two winters, those tires have spent less time ensuring a safe ride on snow and ice and more time chewing up the dry pavement. Studded snow tires, like a beta dog with no purpose in the pack, turn toward destruction when they’re not given a real job to do. Studded tires want to latch onto snow and ice. So far this winter, falling snow and icy conditions have been rare events. In frustration, the tires resort to poking small holes into the asphalt. That kind of attitude is what’s gotten snow tires deemed illegal in ten states. That’s why I keep the snow tire thing going winter after winter. It makes me feel badass to do something that’s illegal in ten states.
Truthfully, even in wintry-weather years the Camry doesn’t see that much action. Once I see the first flake, I go straight to my baby, the trusty Subaru Outback, pampered and seldom driven. On the road we go, looking for photographic snow scenes for a Swellesley post. The beautiful golden retrievers of Wellesley greet us with happy barks as we pass. This is a vehicle they understand. Confident in its abilities, the wagon doesn’t need the adoration or fear of the small and meek. The Subaru was born to ride in inclement weather and needs no implants for its strut down the runway. Just give it a snowy day, and let the winter-worthy wagon do its thing.